How do you science?

Yesterday in class one of my students asked “am I sciencing right?”

After giving him a high five for cleverness, I got to thinking more seriously about that question. In courses like Drama, Art, Music, and Physical Education the students spend a minimal amount of time learning theory, and maximal time practising it. Doing it.

In Science, at least in the introductory courses, there seems to be so much emphasis on basic facts that there is little time left to do science, or as my student would to science. Now, admittedly, there is several centuries worth of background to what goes on in our daily lives. Even up through much of my undergrad studies my courses were pumping me full of background knowledge, with little emphasis on doing science. It wasn’t until my undergraduate thesis and grad school that I got to actually science.

Science is often touted as a subject that requires inquiry, but most science courses actually don’t. Researching facts is an important aspect of science, but it is the preliminary legwork before the actual science begins. When we actually science, we are actively investigating and experimenting, troubleshooting, problem solving, analyzing, and synthesizing. Using our brains, designing, building, testing.

I realize there are some programs, such as the modelling method, that allow (or require!) students to science in high school, but availability and training for these types of programs is not (yet) widespread. I think it’s time to spread the science. If you implement a course, particularly an introductory science course at any level, that is built on students actively doing science, I would like to hear from you. How do you science?

 

2 thoughts on “How do you science?

  1. Alvaro

    Dear teacher,

    I’m a sciences teacher in Tanzania, a country with little tradition and motivation for learning sciences. In the school where I teach, the vast majority of students would like to become lawyers and business people and there is very few willing to learn sciences.

    I’m trying my best to motivate them but I feel short of resources. I have been browsing the web looking for some advise and so far, your writings are the best i have seen. So I was wondering if you could kindly share with me some of the activities or strategies you use to motivate students in learning sciences. I want to learn how to make them science. I would love my students sciencing as well.

    Thanks in advance!

    Alvaro.

    Reply
    1. ed Post author

      I hear you, Alvaro. Even here where many of my students want to go into medicine or engineering it can still be hard to motivate them when there is so much out there to capture their attention.
      Perhaps you can emphasize that the tools of science – observation, logic, critical thinking, are all transferable skills and valuable in any profession.
      I don’t know what your curriculum is like, or how proscribed it is, but exposing them to real world examples of how Science can help them understand what is going on in their world is usually a good way to get them to recognize its importance. Good luck, and let me know how things go!
      Ed

      Reply

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